One of the primary concerns about epoxy flooring or any other coating for the garage, is how slippery it may be when wet and what can be done in terms of an anti-slip additive to create a non-skid surface. Is it even necessary at all? The topic can get confusing when recommending a wide variety of additives from sand, to aluminum oxide, or a small polymer based grit like Shark Grip.
Because resinous garage floor coatings such as epoxy, polyurethane and polyurea are non-porous, the surface created can be very smooth, almost like glass in some cases. While this type of surface is fine when dry, it can become as slippery as an ice rink sometimes with the introduction of water, mud, oils, or snow. So let’s try to determine if you need a non-slip additive in the first place and then take a look at what type is best for your epoxy floor and how to use it.
When deciding whether or not you need a non-slip additive for your garage floor coating, one of the first things to take into consideration is the climate in which you live. If your garage will see an abundance of water from wet cars or melting snow, then a non-skid floor is worth considering. Snow and ice in particular doesn’t mix well with coated garage floors. If you live in a more arid part of the country it may not even be necessary.
Another consideration is how you plan on using the floor. If you are always involved with projects that can involve spilled fluids such as oil, anti-freeze, chemicals, or etc. that can create a slip fall hazard, then an anti-slip additive would help. Then again, there is nothing like cleaning up spills immediately that will alleviate slip fall accidents and not require a non-skid surface.
The type of floor coating system that you install can be a factor as well. If you choose a floor without paint chips or some other media such as quartz, then you will have a very smooth surface which is the most conducive to being slippery when wet. However, a floor with a ¾ to full color chip application will create a slightly irregular texture when top coated with polyurethane or a thinned epoxy or polyurea coating. This irregular texture can provide additional grip in a wet environment that a smooth floor will not.
A brand new floor coating will be extremely smooth (like glass) after the initial installation which can make it slippery when wet. Once the floor develops some traffic, microscopic scratches on the surface will appear (these are not visible in most cases) and increase the grip of the floor tremendously.
The most recommended additive to create a non-slip surface for epoxy, garage floor paint, and other garage floor coatings is ground polymer grit such as Shark Grip. This grit consists of very small micronized polymer beads that are soft to the feet and skin. It becomes translucent when added to a coating and will create very small bumps for grip when mixed into the final top coat of your floor.
Because the grit from products such as Shark Grip is so small, it works well with a thin floor coating such as polyurethane.
If your final top coat is thicker, such as 100% solids epoxy or a polyurea product, then you will need to go with slightly larger polymer grit. The micronized grit like that of Shark Grip and similar products is too small for the thicker coatings and has a tendency to sink below the surface and not be effective. You will want to use a grit size with a mesh between 30 and 60 (smaller numbers are larger in size) to achieve good results.
Another material that creates an excellent non-skid surface for epoxy coatings is an aluminum oxide additive. This is a more aggressive grit that is suspended in the final top coat like polymer grit. It works well in industrial type settings where maximum grip is desired or where extremely slippery conditions exist. This type of non-slip additive is not the most friendly to bare feet and skin. It’s aggressive nature can also create problems with catching mop strings and dirt when cleaning the floor. While it works well as a non-slip additive, it can be more than what most people want for a garage environment. It’s not the best floor surface either for young children that may trip and skin themselves on the floor.
Out of the different methods to achieve an anti-slip surface for garage floor coatings, our favorite is the mixing of polymer grit into the final top coat. It makes for the softest feel that won’t scratch your back up if working under a car or walking in your bare feet. Plus, it’s the least visible of the anti-slip additives, especially when applied to a floor with color chips.